Wikipedia vs. Britannica

H.o.p. is reading up on lemmings today as he has developed a lemming villain for a comic. “Do you know they commit suicide?” he asked.

“Where’d you read this?” I asked, knowing the lemmings suicide pact is a myth.


Which was selective reading on his part as Wikipedia clearly states this is myth, but he admitted he thought it was more interesting and better for his comic if they did commit suicide.

Whether Disney was aware what the filmmakers of its 1958 documentary “White Wilderness” were up to is unknown, but action footage of the animal kingdom is a moneymaker, and the numbers of lemmings shown leaping into the ocean were actually herded off as well as launched overboard by means of a turntable. Wikipedia relates this, which was uncovered by “Cruel Camera”, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation production.

Having never seen “White Wilderness”, I looked it up on Youtube. There they were, cute lemmings (“They’re related to gerbils,” H.o.p. said) wildly throwing themselves off cliffs then swimming into the great unknown.

Then I noticed further down the page the film short, “Lemming Migration Along the Norwegian Coast” placed there by Encyclopaedia Britannica. Clicked on that and it begins with, I guess, a Norwegian narrator talking over footage I’ve not previously seen, but the new narration continuing over, we soon have the Disney footage, lemmings launching themselves over the cliff and swimming toward their doomed horizon.

We happen to have a subscription to the online Britannica which I got when H.o.p. was about 4 years of age, and which we never use. We’ve ended up relying on Wikipedia, which H.o.p. prefers. I signed in to Britannica, looked up lemmings, and, sure enough, the video was primo content attached to the article on lemmings.

Just yesterday, I was telling my sister that I keep intending to unsubscribe from Britannica as we never use it, I have compared it a number of times to Wikipedia entries and it has come up short. Nor has Britannica made itself attractive with good multimedia content.

I asked H.o.p. to make a little cartoon to accompany this post and here’s what he handed me after about ten minutes.

P.S. H.o.p. also put up a post on his blog on it.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

3 thoughts on “Wikipedia vs. Britannica”

  1. I just read this evening that the British Museum has united forces with Wikipedia for their page as they realized that Wikipedia got more hits than their website and wanted to ensure that they were represented in a manner befitting them. Part of the collaboration means they will have a Wiki person in residence for five weeks, building a relationship with them. And they brought in 40 Wiki contributors for a backstage tour, to meet with curators and take photos.

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